Green alien at a desk

Despite Rampant Media Ageism, Aliens Don’t Care How Old You Are

In my Other Worldly novels, age discrimination is eschewed and most aliens of the extraterrestrial kind are not ageist or sexist, especially with respect to post-middle-aged female protagonist Rowan Layne. It’s a world I would much prefer to live in, being an over-sixty woman, as opposed to this nation’s rampant and ridiculous, highly selective, politically charged and abhorrent ageism.

Seen on social media this week in reaction to divisive, derogatory editorials claiming only one candidate should step down, and it wasn’t the convicted felon: Maybe it’s time that the New York Times should step aside for a younger, fitter, more coherent newspaper.

Boy effing howdy, as Rowan would say. And now the previously esteemed publication of my childhood, the Washington Post, is having to actually retract a false claim that Democrats in Congress also said President Biden should drop out of the race.

Newspaper retractions used to be regarded as disgraceful and therefore diligently avoided. These days apparently even the WP doesn’t care about getting egg all over its collusive, fraudulent face.

Ageism and outright corruption abounds among media moguls—despite ole Rupert Murdoch of Fox News infamy, not to mention owner of the Wall Street Journal, being a whopping 94 years old—and it’s an outrage. Their ratings don’t matter more than our rights. When will they stop trying to usurp the will of actual voters?

Also seen on social media this week: The road to fascism is lined with people who condemned one man for the crime of being old while ignoring the actual crimes of the other.

Ya think? Too many members of the media have clearly forgotten their job is to remain objective regardless of how young and stupid, or old and jaded, they are. Obsessing over the octogenarian status of our current decent human being of a president while blatantly and tellingly ignoring how his disgusting, idiotic fascist opponent is merely a few years behind in his late seventies.

Then there’s the handful of elderly Republicans in Congress, one of whom is over ninety (Grassley) and also a duplicitous dolt. Right-wing, anti-democracy extremists aren’t hounded about their age, or failing health. Here’s looking at Mitch McConnell staring silently into a camera, lost to the world while the media and his corrupt cohorts pretend it didn’t happen, more than once.

It’s almost as if journalism seeks to do to Biden what they did to Hillary about her so-called “poor health.” In Clinton’s case it wasn’t her age they were attacking while ignoring her experience (that age brings), it was her gender. Oh and her progressive politics.

Journalists are supposed to cover the news, not create it by fabricating fake stories to hurt candidates. National Enquirer much?

Fact is, President Biden’s age is only a factor because it’s all the MAGA and media morons have got, and because Vice President Kamala Harris is a black female. She’s not “old,” so what are they worried about? Gosh…what could it be? She kicked ass speaking in Vegas yesterday, by the way.

It’s rather ironic and most insidious that an elderly white male president is being harassed over his age, yet his alt-right contemporaries are not. Almost as if it’s really not about age at all.

Yes, ageism is alive and thriving in the US with nasty incongruity, right up there with racism and sexism. And it isn’t just pervasive in the political arena, it’s rampant in most professions, including the writing and publishing arena.

Recently I read an online Writer’s Digest bit about “13 Things You Shouldn’t Say to An Agent or Editor in a Pitch or Query Letter.” It included the usual stuff, such as using an agent’s name and not embellishing or boasting about your work. That, and don’t provide number of pages, provide word count.

If the WD senior editor had stopped there, I might not have gotten my ire up. But one of his thirteen suggestions was don’t give your age. The rationale: “Age is just a number, and it shouldn’t be in your query. Unless you’re 30 and writing a guide specifically for 50-somethings, I’m not interested in your age.”

I agree that age should be just a number, and it probably is a good idea not to put your age in your query letter, but for an entirely different reason. Ageism. When I initially tried to sell Alienable Rights via the traditional publishing route, which requires the timely and painstaking process of querying literary agents, I have no doubt I fell into that pitfall.

For me, it was important to point out that my story involved an atypical female protagonist, precisely because she’s over fifty. A woman of passion and intelligence who is beyond child-bearing age but still had much to offer the world regardless. In doing so, I sought to communicate an example of how my novel was different, innovative. Not cookie-cutter.

Because, in the case of my Other Worldly series and my status as its author, age matters. Age is a worthy attribute, not something to be used against me or Rowan, not something to be scoffed at by those in the business as something they’re “not interested in.”

Quite frankly, literary agents should be interested in age and experience. And magazine editors shouldn’t ignore the pervasive issue of ageism while publishing articles that tell folks not to reveal their age when pitching books. Perhaps they are privileged enough to have never experienced ageism or other forms of bigotry in the publishing world, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us haven’t, and aren’t keenly aware of how it can affect us.

In my upcoming seventh Other Worldly novel, Aliens Watch, women of a certain age are in demand among aliens precisely due to years they’ve had to accrue experience in their chosen endeavors. Because in all of my novels, a woman’s worth isn’t based upon children they’ve had.

And in the upcoming November presidential election, I’ll be voting for the competent guy who may be a few years older than the criminally convicted goon, but he’s not actively trying to overthrow our democracy and turn all women, regardless of age and child-bearing status, into second-class citizens.



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